In an effort to improve our cooking skills, a friend and I have started cooking dinner and dessert together once a week. This was our first meal. The stuffed chicken breasts were very pretty, but it turns out that I don't like goat cheese (except served with cranberries as a spread for crackers), so I didn't care for the chicken. The peas, however, were delicious. The rice is my husband's grandfather's recipe, and like all the recipes he has come up with, it is wonderful. The bread pudding is simply the best bread pudding I've ever eaten. I recommend making extra sauce.
breaded stuffed chicken breasts (The Best Chicken Recipes, editors of Cook's Illustrated)
4 (5-6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed with tenderloins removed
salt and ground black pepper
goat cheese and thyme filling
2 C panko
.5 C flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1. Adjust a rack in the oven to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 F.
2. Butterfly each chicken breast and pound between two sheets of plastic wrap to .25" thick, with edges .125" thick.
3. Place stuffing near tapered end of breasts. Roll each chicken breast over filling to form a neat, tight package (roll up the end to completely enclose the stuffing, and then fold in the sides and continue rolling to form a cylinder), pressing on the seam to seal. Refrigerate, seam-side down and uncovered to allow edges to seal further, about 1 hour.
4. Toss panko with salt and pepper and spread over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a shallow dish and cool to room temperature. Increase oven temperature to 350 F.
5. Combine flour, .25 tsp salt, and .125 tsp pepper in a second shallow dish and whisk eggs and Dijon together in a third shallow dish. Working with one chicken roll at a time, dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess, then coat with the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off. Finally, coat with bread crumbs, pressing gently so that crumbs adhere. (Up to this point, the chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Increase the baking time by 5 to 10 minutes.)
6. Place the chicken rolls at least 1 inch apart on a wire rack set over a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the center of the chicken registers 160 to 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
goat cheese and thyme filling (The Best Chicken Recipes, editors of Cook's Illustrated)
1 TB unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed (about .5 tsp.)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. goat cheese, softened
.125 tsp salt
.125 tsp ground black pepper
1. Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds; set aside to cool.
2. Mix the cooled onion mixture, cream cheese, goat cheese, salt, and pepper together until uniform. Spoon the cheese mixture onto the chicken.
peas with bacon, shallot, and sherry vinegar (The Best Chicken Recipes, editors of Cook's Illustrated)
6 oz. bacon, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed (about 1 tsp.)
2 tsp. sugar
1 pound frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
salt and ground black pepper
Fry bacon in nonstick skillet until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and pour off all but 2 TB of the fat. Add the shallot, garlic, and sugar; cook until softened, about 2 min. Stir in the peas and cook, stirring often, until just heated through, about 2 min. Off the heat, add 2 tsp. sherry vinegar, as well as the bacon and thyme, to the pan.
Jack's herbed rice
6 tbsp butter
2 small onions, chopped
2 cups white rice
2/3 tsp marjoram
2/3 tsp summer savory
1 1/3 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
4 chicken bouillon cubes
4 cups water
Melt butter in pan. Saute onions and rice until lightly browned. Add seasonings and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 min. on low-medium. Cool for ten minutes on warm.
praline bread pudding (Restaurant Favorites at Home, editors of Cook's Illustrated)
12 oz. good-quality French baguette, cut into 1.5" cubes
2 C pecans
6 TB unsalted butter, cut into .5" pieces, plus more for greasing the pan
12 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3 TB vanilla
2 TB hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico (I used Kahlua)
1.5 C sugar
6 C heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
.5 C sugar
.25 C hazelnut liqueur
8 TB unsalted butter
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 250 F. Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry, 30 to 40 min. Remove from oven, transfer to large plate, and cool to room temperature. Increase oven temperature to 350 F. Spread nuts on empty baking sheet and toast, shaking the pan once to turn the nuts, until fragrant, 5 to 8 min. Set aside and turn off the oven.
2. Grease 13 x 9" baking dish with butter. Spread dried bread cubes evenly in baking dish. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, hazelnut liqueur, and sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream. Pour three quarters of the custard over the bread and sprinkle the toasted pecans over the top. Using a rubber spatula, press the bread into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 min. Pour remaining custard evenly over the top, replace plastic wrap, and refrigerate until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour.
3. Return the oven temperature to 350 F. Remove plastic wrap and dot the top of the pudding evenly with the remaining 6 TB butter. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown, the center is slightly puffed, and the custard begins to climb up the sides of the baking dish, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool until set, about 20 min.
4. For the sauce: While the pudding is cooling, place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. heat the sugar and hazelnut liqueur in another medium bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 min. Slowly stir the warm liqueur mixture into the egg yolks. Place the bowl of yolk mixture over the simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and the whisk leaves distinct trails, about 2 min.
5. Melt the butter. Slowly drizzle the hot melted butter into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until all of the butter is incorporated and the sauce is thick and creamy.
6. To serve: Cut the pudding into 12 squares. Transfer to plates and top with 2 TB of the hot hazelnut sauce each. Serve immediately.